Two children who are next of kin

What is next of kin?

Next of kin is the term used to describe your closest living relative, such as your spouse or civil partner. The UK doesn’t have laws around who you can name as your next of kin, but there are specific rules for who takes responsibility when someone dies.

Contents
  1. Next of kin meaning
  2. Who is your next of kin legally in the UK?
  3. Who is the next of kin when someone dies?
  4. Next of kin rights and responsibilities
  5. What does spouse mean?

Next of kin meaning

Next of kin is a term used to describe your closest living relative or relatives. You may be asked to name someone as your next of kin if you’re in hospital, or if you’re taking part in an activity with a certain level of risk – such as a skydive or bungee jump.

In the event of someone’s death, next of kin may also be used to describe the person or people who stand to inherit the most. This is usually the spouse or civil partner, but it could also be their children or parents in certain circumstances.

Who is your next of kin legally in the UK?

As far as UK law is concerned, there isn’t a clear rule around who can be your next of kin, except in the case of children under 18. For children under 18, next of kin is someone who has the legal authority to make decisions on their behalf – such as a parent or legal guardian.

Who is the next of kin when someone dies?

When dealing with a bereavement, people often use the term next of kin to describe the closest relative or relatives of the person who died. This is who doctors, nurses and, in some cases, police officers notify first so that they can inform other family and friends.

While there are no official laws in the UK explaining who your next of kin is when you die, the following priority list is generally accepted:

Spouse or civil partner

If the person who died was married or in a civil partnership, their spouse or civil partner should be considered their next of kin – even if they were separated.

Children

If there is no surviving spouse or civil partner, the deceased’s children should be regarded as their next of kin (except if they are under 18).

Parents

If the person who died has no surviving spouse or civil partner, and no children over 18, their parents are considered their next of kin.

Next of kin rights and responsibilities

Arranging a funeral

The next of kin is usually the person who takes charge of arranging the funeral. On average, this costs £4,800 in the UK and includes things like hiring a funeral director, sending invitations to family and friends, ordering flowers, and sorting out catering for the wake.

If you would prefer something a bit less traditional, you could arrange a direct cremation with Farewill for just £980. You'll then be free to plan a truly personal memorial service that's right for you and your family.

To find out more about our simple cremation service, call Farewill today on 020 3966 3935.

Apply for probate

If the person who died didn’t write a will, the next of kin will be responsible for applying for probate. This is because they’re the person who stands to inherit the most under the rules of intestacy. You can find out more about the rules of intestacy here.

After the grant has been approved by the probate registry, the next of kin will be named administrator of the estate. They’ll then be responsible for distributing assets to beneficiaries.

If you're the next of kin and need help applying for probate, call Farewill today on 020 3695 1713 for a free, no obligation quote.

Note: If the person who died did write a will, the executors of the will are responsible for applying for probate.

What does spouse mean?

Spouse is a word used to describe the husband or wife in relation to their married partner. When there is a bereavement, the surviving spouse usually takes responsibility for arranging the funeral – often with the help of their adult children. If the person who died didn't make a will, the spouse will also need to apply for a grant of letters of administration. You can find out more about this here.

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